John Coltrane and the integration of Indian concepts in jazz improvisation


  • Carl Clements City University of New York Graduate Center



Coltrane, World Music, Indian Music, Crosscultural Improvisation


John Coltrane was at the forefront of many important directions in jazz in the 1950s and 1960s, including “hard bop,” “modal jazz,” “avant garde jazz,” and “world music.” One interest that became an increasingly dominant focus for him in his later years was the study of Indian music and spirituality. While Coltrane’s music remained firmly rooted in jazz, this exploration was an important part of the development of Coltrane’s personal style from the early 1960s to the end of his life in 1967. A number of factors inspired Coltrane to explore Indian music and thought, and an investigation of specific applications of these ideas in his music will present some insight into his stylistic motivation. His incorporation of Indian ideas also inspired many other musicians, such as John McLaughlin, Dave Liebman, and Jan Garbarek, to pursue this direction, and it remains an important part of his legacy.

Author Biography

Carl Clements, City University of New York Graduate Center

Carl Clements is a PhD candidate at the City University of New York Graduate Center and Managing Editor at the H. Wiley Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music. He is also an active performer on saxophone and bansuri (North Indian flute) in the New York jazz and world music scenes, has performed at many international jazz festivals, and is featured on numerous recordings.


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How to Cite

Clements, C. (2009). John Coltrane and the integration of Indian concepts in jazz improvisation. Jazz Research Journal, 2(2), 155–175.